You are on page 1of 22

Pollution is defined as undesirable change in the chemical, physical or biological

characteristics of the natural environment caused by pollutants.

Pollutants means, any substance that is present in an excessive amount in the

environment as a result of human activities. They can be toxic such as pesticides or
natural constituents such as carbon dioxide. They bring negative impact towards soil,
rivers, seas and even the atmosphere.

Four main types of pollution are;

a) air pollution
b) water pollution
c) thermal pollution
d) noise pollution

Let us briefly go through all of these encumbrances.

1. Air Pollution
-Smoke, dirt, dust and poisonous gases that are released into the air endangering
many living organisms. Most of the air pollutants come from the burning of fossil
fuels from motor vehicles.

-Let us see, some of the air pollutants that harm our atmosphere.
Pollutants Sources Effects
Carbon monoxide -combustion of fossil fuels -combing with haemoglobin to
form carboxyhaemoglobin
-combustion sources such which reduces the capability
as motor vehicle exhaust, pf transportation of oxygen by
smoke from fires and red blood cells.
engine fumes
-nausea, headaches, fatigue,
brain damage and can be fatal
Carbon dioxide Combustion of fossil fuels -causing emphysema

-affects respiration

-causing acid rains which

damage buildings

-give arise to greenhouse

effect and global warming.
Nitrogen monoxide and -combustion of fossil fuels -damage lung tissues
nitrogen dioxide
-motor vehicle exhaust -cause bronchitis

-irritates the eyes

-reduce body’s defence against


-contributes to acid rains

which reduce pH of soil, lakes
and rivers.

-acid rain can also corrode


Sulphur dioxide -combustion of fossil fuels -irritates and damages the

-a pungent gas and acidic lining of the eyes, air passages
-can dissolve in water. -industries and lungs.

-Causes coughing and


-acid rain formation can cause

skin disease.
-reduce plants’ growth

-acid rain, corrodes iron,

copper, steel, stonework,
destroy buildings.

Fine Matter -combustion of fossil fuels -irritates eyes and respiratory

-like smoke fumes, dust, from motor vehicles, tract
ash pollen. agricultural burning and
industries. -haze formation; causing
asthma, sore throat and reduce
-forest fires. visibility.

-quarries and asbestos -darkens vegetations

-blocks stomata, thus lowering
rate of photosynthesis.
Lead -combustion of fossil fuels -reduces sensitivity of hands
and feet coordination

-retards mental development in


-disturbs body’s ability to

produce new cells.
Hydrocarbon -combustion of fossil fuels -affects growth
from motor vehicles.
-causes cancer
Air Pollution Index (API)
-used to measure air quality.
-in Malaysia, air pollutants included ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide,
sulphur dioxide and particulate matter.
-the index is calculated using the concentrations of major air pollutants.
-It is developed in easily understood ranges of values.
-Precaution steps must be taken when it exceeds 200.


0-50 Good Low, no ill effects on health
Moderate pollution, no ill
51-100 Moderate
effects on health.
Mild aggravation of
101-200 Unhealthy symptoms among high risk
Significant aggravation of
symptoms and decrease
201-300 Very unhealthy
exercise tolerance among
high risk groups.
Severe aggravation of
301-500 Hazardous symptoms and danger to
Severe aggravation of
Above 500 Emergency symptoms and danger to
-Discharging of agricultural wastes, industrial wastes, domestic wastes and sewages
pollute water sources and lands.

-Sources and pollutants of water pollution

a) Fertilisers and pesticides from farms


b) Oil spills
-grease Effects of Water Pollution
c) Sewage effluent -untreated water contains
-detergent pathogens like vibrio which
-faeces causes cholera.
-nitrates -pesticides and herbicides
passed to humans via food chain
d) Non-biodegradable are harmful.
rubbish -heavy metals such as mercury
-suspended solids cause nervous disorders,
-rubbish blindness, and death.
e) Effluent from factories -excess nitrates and phosphates
-heavy metals lead to eutrophication
-oil -rubbish and oil deduce the light
-grease penetration and diffusion of
-chemicals oxygen into water, killing
aquatic organisms.
-oil covers the gills of fishes
causing delicacy of respiration
among fishes.
-decomposition of decayed
materials by saprophytic
bacteria reduces the oxygen
content in the water.
What is eutrophication??

1. Eutrophication is a natural process whereby an aquatic ecosystem becomes

enriched with nutrients, thus causing an excessive growth of aquatic plants.

2. These nutrients come from various sources, like:

a) fertilisers (nitrates & phosphates) from agricultural fields.

b) Sewage treatment plant discharges
c) Run-off of animal wastes.

2. The increases nutrients promote rapid growth of algae when they are deposited
into the water sources.
3. Excessive growth of algae is defined as Algal Bloom.
4. Algal Bloom threats the ecosystem in two main ways.

1st WAY
1. Densely populated algae cover the
water surface and block penetration 2ND WAY
of sunlight. Thus, no photosynthesis
occurs, aquatic plants die. 1. When algae die, decomposing
Aquatic animals lose their food organisms especially saprophytic
sources and habitats. Hence, food bacteria use up oxygen for its
chains and ecosystem change. activities. As a result, oxygen content
The level of dissolved oxygen in the in the water is reduced.
water also reduced.
5. Depletion of oxygen results in an increase in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)
6. Eutrophication increases the BOD value in the water.
7. What is BOD by the way? BOD refers to the amount of oxygen utilized by
microorganisms to oxidise all organic matter in one litre of water.
8. The higher the BOD value, the more polluted the water as the dissolved oxygen
level decreases.


Nutrients from fertilisers Water surface

flow into the bodies of Growth of algae covered with
water. increases. algae

Aerobic bacteria
BOD Level increases. use up oxygen
3. Thermal Pollution
- Thermal pollution happens when there is an increase in the temperature of a water
source or excessive heat in the environment.

- Hot water is discharged into nearby water sources from the effluent of industrial
processes, cooling towers of power stations and reactor plants.

- The discharge of hot water increases the water temperature by 10 degree Celsius.

- Reflection of heat from glass buildings also make the world succumbs to a high rises in
temperature of the surroundings.

-Effects of an increase n water temperature:

1) The level of dissolved oxygen in water reduced. This affects the

life of aerobic aquatic organisms.
2) It causes the death of some aquatic organisms because several
organisms can only thrive at certain temperatures. Some
organisms might also move away, hence disrupts the food chain
in an ecosystem.
3) Rapid growth of algae encouraged. Lead to a higher BOD value.
4. Noise Pollution

- Noise pollution occurs when there are disruptions by high decibels of noises.

- Undeniable, urban developments cause most of the noise pollution we are confronted
with now. Examples are:

a) vehicles
b) construction sites
c) machines in industrial fields
d) entertainment outlets

- The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a noise level of not exceeding than
55 decibels (Db).

-Long exposure to a noise level of 80 Db may cause headache, emotional and mental
disturbances and may also lead to deafness.

- Sun’s rays reach the Earth through radiation. Some of these radiations are
absorbed by the Earth to warm the surfaces of sea and lands.

- As the Earth is warmed, heat in the form of infrared radiation is radiated

back into space.

- However, much of this radiation is prevented from escaping into space by

greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and

- So, the infrared radiation is radiated back to the Earth’s surfaces and
warming the Earth further.

- This phenomenon is referred as the greenhouse effect, which is similarly to

the greenhouse used in farming in countries which experience temperature
climates. In the original greenhouse, the glass of the greenhouse allows light
to enter but prevents the loss of heat. The kept heat is being used to warm the
soil and air.

- As usual, human activities are the main contributors toward greenhouse

effect, mainly burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

- The increment of greenhouse gases increases the greenhouse effect causing

more heat trapped in the atmosphere. The Earth’s average temperature
increases and is known as GLOBAL WARMING.

- GLOBAL WARMING’S drawbacks are like stated below:

~ melting of polar ice and glaciers causing rise in sea level

~ floods in low-lying countries
~ change in weather patterns
~ increase in droughts
~ decrease in crops yield due to infertile soil
~ spread of pest and disease-carrying vectors to new areas
~ Intense rains in some regions

~ reduce burning of fossil fuels

~ reduce deforestations
~ stop open burning
~ practise replanting of trees
~ find other alternatives of energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy.
~ abide the Kyoto protocol; an International treaty sign by countries committed to the
deduction of release in greenhouse gases.

- Ozone layer is present in the stratosphere which is above the Earth’s

atmosphere, 12-25 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.

- Ozone layer protects the Earth from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV)

-High concentrations of ozone, which is mainly, the (O3), in the ozone layer,
have the ability to absorb large amounts of UV radiation.

- We must beware, that, ozone, although is in the form of oxygen, will not be
replenished naturally once it is depleted.

- The main cause of ozone depletion is the increasing level of

chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere.

- CFCs are widely used as coolants in air conditioner as well as in

refrigerators, as propellants in aerosol cans, as solvents in electronics
industries and as foaming agents in the production of polystyrene boxes.

- CFCs are unreactive and can remain unchanged for over 100 years.

- UV radiation breaks down CFCs, releasing chlorine radicals which destroy

ozone in a chain reaction. It is estimated that a single chlorine atom can
destroy 100 thousand molecules of ozone in a year.

- Thus, the thinner the ozone layer, the more UV radiation would be able to
reach the Earth’s surface. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation leads to the
following cases.


~ Skin cancer or melanoma ~ Damage of leaf cells and ~ Temperature increases.

~ Cataract damage chlorophyll, reducing ~ Changes in wind directions.
~ Low immune system photosynthesis. ~ Climatic changes.
~ Decrease in the nutrient
content and crop yields.
~Killing of phytoplankton.

Sea water becomes

warm due to global Drought causes lands to
warming results in a dry. Ecosystem is
declination in disrupted as the
zooplanktons. producers, the plants
Ecosystem’s food web cannot thrive.

Coral reefs, wetlands, UV radiation affects

polarseas and temperate photosynthesis. Aquatic
forests are slowly losing organisms are sensitive
its flora and fauna. to UV. .

As human population increases, the need to fulfill humans’ demands also increase. The
demands are like the need for homes, roads and factories. Thus, there are more
deforestation, more wastes are dumped and more burning of fossil fuels.

The effects of an increase in population on the ecosystem include:

1. Soil erosion, landslides, extinction of flora and fauna

2. Water, air, thermal and noise pollution as a result of human activities.
3. Depletion of natural resources like coals, oils and minerals.
4. Greenhouse effect and global warming due to open burning. Combustion of fossil
fuels, burning of forests and farms.
5. Eutrophication and water pollution due to increasing usage of pesticides,
herbicides and fungicides in agriculture.

Honestly, these effects threaten our lives and the ecosystem. Emphasize on the
development must be reduced. A balance between development projects and environment
management must be created as fast as possible.

- Among the enacted laws and regulations by the government are:

(a) Enviromental Quality Act 1974,1985

A principal legislation in regulating the prevention, abatement and control of

pollution as well as the enhancement of the environment.

Among the regulations included here are:

(i) Sewage and Industrial Effluents Regulation 1979

(ii) Motor Vehicle Noise Regulations 1987
(iii) Environment Impact Assessment Order 1987
(iv) Control of Emission from Diesel Engines Regulation 1996
(v) Clean Air Regulations 2000

(b) National Forestry Act 1984

- It aims is at protecting and preserving our forests and wildlife.

(c) Pesticides Act 1974

- It aims at controlling the use of pesticides.

(d) Protection of Wildlife Act 1972

- It aims at protecting wild animals, birds and plants.

(e) Fisheries Act 1985

- It aims at controlling marine pollution.

Apart from national laws, meetings and forums were held internationally to discuss
ways to protect our environment. For instance, Earth Summit was held in Rio De
Janeiro in1992, Langkawi Declaration in Langkawi 1989 and Protocol Montreal


- Rubbish is sorted into recyclable materials and non-recyclable materials. The non-
recyclable materials can be burnt in incinerators where heat formed can be
reclaimed and being used in heating or to generate electricity.

- Catalytic converters are used to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides emitted and
convert harmful gases released during combustion of fossil fuels into less harmful

- Unleaded petrol can be used to replace leaded petrol.

- Solar energy can generate cars and can reduce the combustion of fossil fuels.

- Chimneys of factories are fixed with filters as to impair the amount of air

- Sewage is treated before it is discharged into water to reduce water pollution.

- Agricultural waste can be converted to methane gas.

-Bacteria can aid in the breakdown of oil which is spilled in the sea water.

- Education is essential to teach public about the importance of maintaining a balanced

ecosystem. Here, in Malaysia, environmental education is one aspect of the National
Education Philosophy.

- Below are the objectives of the environmental education:

a) to increase awareness of individuals and society towards the environment and its
b) To impart knowledge to individuals and society on the environment, problems on
the environment as well as their duties and responsibilities.
c) to care and protect the environment for the sake of a balance living.
d) To acquire skills that can solve environmental problems.

- Formal education is carried out in schools, colleges and institutions. Mobile education
units visit schools to give talks and film shows which concern about the environment.
Meanwhile, informal education is carried out through mass media, campaigns, seminars,
brochures, magazines and films.

-The 3R concept is basically one of the educations on management of resources ideas. 3R

refers to as reduce, reuse and recycle.

- Lesser demand in obtaining natural sources when recycle method is being implemented
by all. Newspapers, glass, bottles and aluminium cans can be recycled. Meanwhile,
empty cans, bottles or plastic bags can be reuse.

- Education on the effects and causes of pollution, the usage of metal food containers to
replace polystyrene boxed and the usage of shopping baskets rather than using plastic
bags can be highlighted in schools.

- Biodiversity can be maintained if we preserve and conserve the forests and mangrove

- Preservation involves efforts and measures taken to protect the ecosystem so as to

maintain a balance of nature.

- Conservation involves steps and efforts taken to return an imbalanced ecosystem to its
natural equilibrium.

- Measures taken to preserve and conserve our environment are:

(a) control of grazing by animals

(b) farming along contours
(c) crop rotation
(d) cultivation on terraces
(e) proper use of fertilisers
(f) effective irrigation and drainage

- In order to sustain a continuous supply of clean water, our water sources must be
preserved. Among the methods taken to preserve and conserve our water sources and
water catchments areas are by educating public to take care and love the rivers, lakes,
seas and enforcing laws to prevent pollution.

- How about our mangrove swamps? Mangrove swamps play a vital role in controlling
flood, coastal erosion prevention, sediment control and also as barriers against strong sea
waves such as the tsunami strikes.
-The mangrove trees are used for pilling in construction, building materials and as a
source of fuel. Clearing of mangrove swamps for its timber robs the flora and fauna
found in the swamps, so efforts must be toyed up to preserve and conserve our mangrove

-Laws prohibiting random tree felling, hunting and farming must be enforced strictly.

-Forest reserves are gazetted. Replanting of trees must be carried out.

-Reforestation ensures that forests are renewed. Restoration activities should be

conducted to restore damage forests.


-This method is an alternative method rather than using pesticides to get rid of pests

-Pesticides are not only expensive and toxic to non-pest; they actually make pests more
resistance to pesticides used.

-Biological control involves the use of the pest’s natural predator to keep the population
of the pest at the minimum level.

-Examples of the usage of biological control are:

(a) Female hoverfly is used to control aphids which suck the nutrient of wheat plants.
(b) A bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis can kill caterpillars on cabbages.
(c) Owl is used to control the population of rates in oil palm plantation.


- Renewable energy is the energy that occurs naturally and is inexhaustible. It does not
give rise to pollution.

-Examples of renewable energy are:

(a) solar energy by the Sun

(b) wind energy
(c) hydroelectric
(d) geothermic energy
(e) biomass energy
(f) wave energy


- We are using non-renewable energy from fossil fuels at an alarming rate. We must take
notice that those non-renewable energies we use will be exhausted and cannot be renewed
if its usage is not controlled.

- Improve fuel efficiency in motorized vehicles and also in factories by modifying the
engines and machines. Right now, several scientists are working on the hydrogen fuel
that can be used in motor vehicles in the future, which does not cause pollution.

- Use natural gas and reduce combustion of fossil fuels, and not to mention stop open
burning. Natural gas like ethanol or methanol obtained from the waste of crops and
animals can be used alternatives sources of fuel since they give off less emission of toxic
gases and giving great mileage and performance to vehicles either.


- Due to modernity, human activities cause an imbalanced ecosystem or in the near

future, may also destroy an ecosystem.

- We should not be too eager. Awareness on the threatening activities of human beings
toward the ecosystem must be imparted in all mankind. For example, dumping rubbish
and toxic wastes into rivers and drains can lead to water pollution. The rivers and drains
will then be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The decaying rubbish also attracts rats,
flies and animals vectors. After that, human beings have to suffer from various illnesses
like dengue fever and so on.

- Many activities can be working on to encourage students to care for the ecosystem. In
schools, there must be activities on building up fish pond, setting up a garden and also on
recycling materials.

- “:Gotong-royong” is another initiative that can be carried out to keep the school and the
environment at home clean.

- Campaigns such as the “Environment Day” and “Recycling Day” can also be carried
out at school.